Black Friday advertisements have already begun to seep into ad spaces, and it is only the beginning of what is sure to be an aggressive marketing cycle for retailers. Spending and traffic are down for most companies, and they can’t afford to wait until November to win over consumers. The past few years have shown us that shoppers are willing to spend for deep discounts and retailers might start slashing prices.

We have already seen the restaurant industry pivot to new menu items and value menus for the summer. The hope is to win over diners with the deals of yesteryear and bring back lower income consumers that have abandoned eating out. Much like a retail sales event, these value menus are set to be only for a limited time. This summer will be a proving ground for most restaurants as they try to determine how much people are willing to pay and if they will return at all. If traffic returns to normal during the summer, most restaurant value deals will disappear by the fall. However, if traffic continues to be stilted with these deals, we expect restaurants to deploy drastic marketing and pricing strategies to bolster consumer engagement. The fall and winter can be slow times for restaurants in a good year and these major chains are not going to let consumer confidence continue to drop and risk a catastrophic end to the year.

For retailers, we can expect prices to be slashed early and often this summer. Spending is down for most major retail categories and while the situation is not as dire as in the restaurant industry, we don’t expect retailers to sit on their hands. We have already seen some early Black Friday news floating around even though we are over five months away from the sales event. We certainly will be seeing early Black Friday deals this year, yet upcoming sales events like July 4th and Amazon Prime Day could have a Black Friday lite feel to them. The financial performance for retailers this year has been poor, and they will not be content to wait until October or November for consumers to come out and shop. Black Friday usually carries the steepest discounts of the year, yet we could see some summer sales set extremely low prices to lure consumers out sooner. Another advantage of having earlier mega sales is in avoiding the economic tension that will be taking place during the Presidential election. Elections tend to make the economy more volatile, and retailers can’t afford a Black Friday letdown due to political concerns.

The economy and spending are stagnating and there is no easy way out of the situation. The supply chain is in better shape than in the last few years and inflation appears to be slowing down, yet current prices and consumer are not in agreement. End-of-year sales have been successful in the past few years when times became tough, and it is not surprising to see retailers and restaurants turn to event style sales earlier to jumpstart spending. Companies have the next few months to experiment and turn 2024 into a winner. Whatever happens this summer we will see a domino effect that changes the course of the rest of the year.